Car Accident Investigation Procedure: What You Need To Know
Vehicle accidents occur regularly throughout Illinois, and the number one priority after these incidents occur is determining liability so victims can recover compensation. However, these cases can become incredibly complicated. Often, a vehicle accident case requires extensive investigation by law enforcement officials, insurance carriers, and attorneys involved in the case. Here, we want to discuss the car accident investigation procedure. What we will find is that the investigation begins right after an accident occurs and often continues for days, weeks, or months following the crash.
This Begins at the Scene of the Crash
The investigation of a vehicle accident begins very soon after the incident occurs. In general, it is understood that law enforcement officials will come to the scene of a crash and conduct a preliminary investigation. Police reports are typically required by the insurance carriers in order for any payments to be made to injured parties.
However, if it is safe to do so at the scene of a crash, and if those involved are not severely injured, it is possible for non-law enforcement individuals to gather evidence. Using a smartphone or another type of camera, those involved in a crash can take pictures of:
- Damage to vehicles
- Skid marks
- Causes of the crash
- …and more
Additionally, If there were any eyewitnesses to the incident, it is imperative to get their names and contact information before they leave the scene. It is also important for those involved in the accident to exchange insurance information, names, and contact information with other drivers.
The Investigation Continues After the Scene is Cleared
After an accident scene is cleared, the investigation will not necessarily stop. Often, this is where it becomes important for an attorney to be involved in the case. An attorney will have the resources and legal expertise necessary to handle additional investigation needed to prove liability. Some of the types of evidence that a Chicago car accident attorney can gather (often by using the court system to get subpoenas) include the following:
- Video surveillance from cameras on nearby homes or business
- Dashcam footage from any vehicle involved
- Vehicle “black box” data
- Citation or arrest information from law enforcement officials if an arrest was made
- The driving record of other drivers involved in the incident
- Mobile device data
- …and more
Accident Reconstruction Experts May be Necessary
There are times when the typical investigation process will not clearly determine liability. This can be a problem, particularly when it comes to getting the insurance carrier to pay out a settlement for a victim’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more.
In these cases, it may be necessary for an attorney working with an injury victim to seek assistance from a skilled accident reconstruction expert. An accident reconstruction expert is someone who has extensive experience and scientific knowledge of the mechanics of vehicle accidents. They can use the evidence that has been gathered as well as information available at the actual car accident scene to piece together what happened. Often, accident reconstruction experts will recreate the incident using digital 3D modeling that can be used to show insurance carriers or a personal injury jury what happened.